The truth about being a foster parent

foster parent

The text message came at a really bad time.

I was exhausted, battling a 5-day-long migraine and foggily trying to make room on my mental to-do list. From the other room, I could hear splashing as my husband flawlessly performed the art of revolving door baby bathing (baby gets in the water, baby is cleaned, baby is handed to me, the next baby gets in the water… repeat until completed).

I gathered all of the necessary items for post-revolving door baby bathing, and set it out in stations—each child with his or her own particular items.

When my phone buzzed, I glanced down to see a message from our worker at the foster care agency.

She wanted to know if we’d be interested in helping recruit potential foster families.

In that moment, I laughed out loud. I wanted to reply: “Read the room, girlfriend. We have 3 under 3, and I’m losing my mind. I can’t recommend this life to anyone.”

Because in that moment, all I could see was the hard stuff.

The unknown. The heartache. The visitations (worse, the cancelled visitations), day care calls, illnesses, diapers, crying, court dates, social worker meetings, bio parent drama…

…the vacation time I’ve burned on doctor’s appointments and runny noses. The formula cans collecting in our recycling bin. The never-ending washing of baby bottles. The off-key symphony of crying and toddler tantrums.

All I could see was the sheer amount of effort it takes just to get three children in bed for the night. Pajamas of different sizes, diapers and pullups, medicines, creams, special lotions. Breathing treatments, nose cleaning, sippy cups and bottles:

foster parent

All of this work, and only one child is legally mine. The part of my soul that is stretched thin yelled: why do I do this to myself?

But as I stared at the items, I realized something.

What a blessing this is.

The countless onesies and socks and pajamas are more than just laundry. They represent lives so special and unique.

The fact that each child needs their own lotion isn’t an annoyance. It’s a blessing. It’s a way to teach my son that our skin is different, but it doesn’t matter. We still put our pajamas on the same way.

The cocoa butter oil in the hair of our sweet foster son is a blessing. It’s a smell I’ve grown to love since the day I brought him home. A comforting, heavenly warmth that makes me smile.

Yes, the chest rub and breathing treatments mean illness. But, they also mean I get to be the one to nurse these children back to health and provide what they desperately need.

What a blessing.

The toys littering the floor, bibs collecting by the washing machine, and car seats stacked by the front door… they’re distracting, yes, but they’re also reminders that our life is so full of love. Through these children, we’re able to watch our son learn to share, nurture, and entertain in a way we couldn’t otherwise provide.

Fostering has grown our family in both permanent and temporary ways.

It’s tested our limits, challenged our strengths, and brought us closer together.

Fostering has shown us how strong we are.

It’s brought out traits we didn’t know existed. It’s sharpened our skills, illuminated our weaknesses, and introduced us to people we’ll never forget.

Yes. When we close our eyes each night, we do so knowing there’s a chance the baby monitor will wake us up at 2 a.m. But, more importantly, we do so knowing that each child under our roof is healthy. Loved. SAFE.

Oh, what a blessing.

I promise you – being a foster parent is hard. Not only must you complete the tasks of every day parenting (the dressing, transporting, healing, feeding, bathing, carrying, conversing), but you must do it for children who don’t belong to you. Children who may resent you. Often, children who are damaged.

It’s easy to think, “Oh, I couldn’t do that.”

Just like it would have been easy to respond to that text: “Oh, I couldn’t do that.”

But you’d be amazed what you can do when you give yourself the chance. Which is why I looked at my incredibly messy, busy, stressful life and replied: “I’d love to tell people about foster parenting.”

Oh, what a blessing.

If you’re interested in learning more about being a foster parent, please contact me. We work with a fantastic agency that has forever changed our lives and given us a much brighter future. I believe they could do the same for you.

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